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One Democratic State: an ongoing debate

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“A gem cannot be polished without friction” – Confucius

As anger and despair grow exponentially among Palestinians and the world wavers between stupefaction, exasperation and outright complicity in the rapidly accelerating violent extremism of Israeli Zionists, the return to center stage of a simple concept, the ‘One Democratic State’ (ODS) in historic Palestine, is an encouraging development.

Today more than ever, people realize that the current regime of blatant ethnic discrimination will never end as long as the “Two States Solution” continues to be blindly repeated as the official, totally dishonest and irrelevant, mantra to ‘peace’. The violence, racism and ethnic cleansing, part and parcel of the Zionist State of Israel since its inception, can only be addressed by a political structure characterized by equal rights and full civil liberties for all the country’s long-suffering inhabitants, including those Palestinian refugees who should have been among its inhabitants throughout these last seventy years.

A recent piece in Mondoweiss by Jeff Halper, addresses this subject, albeit with an unnecessarily diluted and to our eyes, potentially dangerous vision, of the ODS program, that along with many others, we’ve been promoting for years. Before commenting however, a word about ourselves, the authors.

Both of us, an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian refugee, are active in “The Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State (http://osds-movement.net/). One lives in the Ajami quarter of Jaffa and the other in the Palestinian diaspora, far ‎from Manshieh, another neighborhood of Jaffa where his family lived until the Nakba. We both ‎ aspire to live under a single secular and democratic state for all its citizens inside historic Palestine, alongside the ‎returning refugees, under a rule of law that permits no discrimination based on religion, language, ‎ethnicity or gender.

A ‘bi-national state’ by any other name…

Whatever he chooses to call it, Halper’s ‘multicultural’ ODS is in fact a cleverly disguised package of bi-nationalism. His article focuses on “multiculturalism”, “constitutional democracy”, “bi-national state” and “collective rights” – all themes meaningful and pertinent to the ‘communities’ he sees as composing the social corpus of this future state’s civil society, but of no value or relevance to individuals. He proposes “to protect the “collective rights” of groups to maintain any type of community they wish within the framework of a multi-cultural democracy” – without defining what this would entail precisely and pragmatically.

Muddying the picture even further, he proposes a “de facto secular state”, but refuses to name it as such in the ODS program. Secularism clearly unnerves Halper who sees it as “a red flag” provoking the resistance of communities whom he describes as permanently and statically religious, nationalistic and immovable.

Aside from the orientalist mindset implicit to this attitude, we also find it puzzling from someone who grew up in a country that proclaimed the ‘separation of church and state’ loud and clear from its beginning, alongside a religious sector that’s thrived throughout the last two centuries. Secularism is not the negation of religious beliefs, nor is it ‘against’ religion. Secularism is the neutrality of the state vis-à-vis those religious matters that are strictly and only relevant to the citizen’s personal ‎freedom of beliefs, religious and/or philosophical.

Moreover, this view is shortsighted. If Halper ‎perceives the future electorate majority as so inevitably anti-secular, where does he expect to find the votes needed to put secular measures into place in a supposedly ‎’democratic’ state? A constitutional democracy accords any constituent minority the legal authority to block legislative measures perceived as ‎contrary to its opinion and/or interests. If his objective really is a secular state, then this approach is clearly flawed and self-destructive.

In our view, true democracy can only be achieved, or even aspired to, through the complete separation between religious institutions (mosque, synagogue, ‎church) and the state. This is the single best regulation of relations between central government and civil society. It is precisely the so-called ‘Jewishness’ of the State of Israel that has never allowed it to become a true democracy. Replacing it with potentially Muslim, Christian or Jewish ‘communities’ would be equally disastrous.

Moreover, the bi-national/multicultural system is replete with other potential pitfalls. A few examples:

*  A bi-national constitutional state allows a ‘national community’ to secede from the state if parliament is perceived as having failed to protect it from another.

* The state’s undivided sovereignty is not possible once the heterogeneous mixture of multiple ‘sovereignties’ within the state and civil society is recognized. Each community would have its own sovereignty, functioning with its own cultural, religious and social institutions along the lines of national cantons, semi-independent, federated in a supra-structure of a formal state.

* What of the potential for bitter internal friction within these very communities? If communities with a strong religious component are accorded any type of legal authority, which Judaism, which Islam will actually prevail?

In such a context, it is all too easy to imagine a simple spark lighting the re-emergence of an ethno-religious state, to say nothing of the potentially crippling impact on everyday functions of the state. At best we would likely end up with yet another perpetually handicapped, confessional state along the lines of the government of the Lebanon.

Individual liberties at risk

From an anthropological point of view, the individual, regardless of political power, is attached by “organic” links to a given community. This attachment is cultural, not legal. A secular state does not attribute a legal status to ancestral cultural practices. For example, the law of the state should neither prevent nor encourage marriage either within or outside the ‘community’ nor should it forbid communitarian expressions, but it is duty-bound to take away the monopoly of confessional institutions over areas such as marriage and family law (divorce, custody, child and spousal support and inheritance). These inherited institutions would no longer have the exclusive right to celebrate and register marriage contracts.

While celebrating cultural expression of all kinds, including communitarian, we see decreeing community affiliation as part and parcel of one’s status vis-à-vis the state, as incompatible with true democracy. Using ‘community’ as a defining sociological basis for citizenship, rather than only the individual person, directly contradicts the concept of ‘citizenship of person’ defined as ‘a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation.’ ‎Citizenship is an entirely different concept than that of belonging to a community and the two must be distinguished legally in the clearest possible terms. How is this to be accomplished in a state organized around national, ethnic and religious ‘communities’?

Moreover, if we do not clearly establish the legal dominance of the secular, civil state from the start, how are we to avoid seeing religious laws maintain their authority within religious communities? According to Halper, “what is left unsaid is that religious law (halakhah, sharia, ecclesiastical law) may continue to pertain within its religious communities, …. but will accompany, not displace, civil law where people choose to observe it.” But where will the lines be drawn? This becomes doubly problematic for a state which refuses to identify itself as secular and doubly dangerous because we know that religious ‎communities and their political parties are infected by the germ of totalitarianism (see the recent extension of ‎the competences of the rabbinic courts)?

Our fear is to see communitarian and religious institutions dominating the daily life of their individual members in the name of ‘community rights’. This would be purely and simply liberticidal for the individual citizen who does not want to be held “prisoner” by his or her community ‎and would be especially dangerous for women, the first victims of misogynist and patriarchal laws. Endowing local communities with “state powers” means potentially sanctioning discriminatory regulations and attitudes towards women. Is this a risk we want to take?

This is just one reason why a fully democratic state must be clearly and unashamedly secular and why we believe that any state that is not defined as such, is quite simply not a democracy. Only a secular state provides lasting protection and guarantees fundamental freedoms for the individual. On the one hand, it provides balance between the civil rights of each and every citizen, without particular attributes and equal to every other, all the while belonging (or not) to a particular community and living according to his or her personal convictions on the other.

Secularism as a means of dismantling Zionism’s hold over Judaism

In parallel with the project of “expropriating” the land of Palestine, Zionist ideologues transformed Judaism ‎into a national myth so as to provide the Zionist-colonialist project with a ready-made pretext for establishing a “Jewish nation-‎state” on the “heavenly promised land”. By assigning an imaginary “national” geography to Judaic religious symbols, the Zionists ‘cloning’ of the European national model (with its colonial and racial discourse) became complete.

We see the politicization of religion and its spiritual dimensions, the transformation of a spiritual faith (whether of Judaism or any other religion) into a “nationality” as a perversion ‎of religion. The reversal of this process is also what we expect from the OSDS movement. A secular state of ‎non-nationalist citizenship would restore to the Jewish religion its basic inclinations and ‎vocations by “depoliticizing” it and simultaneously allow civil society of that country to unify around a coherent and single identity, thus breaking with the last seventy years of perpetual conflict along contrived, communitarian lines.

By proposing to formalize ‘Israeli Jews’ as a community based on this ‘religious nationality’, Halper falls, however inadvertently, right into that same old Zionist trap. A “bi-national state” for two “nations” (even when dressed up with the more ‘politically correct’ title of ‘multicultural’) amounts to little better than a re-branded version of the moribund ‘Two States’ of Oslo infamy. Enshrining these divisive definitions anew into the institutions of the ODS amounts to the same. The political programs implicit to the concept of ‎a bi-national state are simply one more, refashioned variant of the previous Nation-state recipe, but this ‎time with a double nationalism, bound to only aggravate tensions rather than alleviate them.

We see a future secular and democratic State in historical Palestine ‎for all its citizens as the achievement of a double-edged process of decolonization: ‎decolonizing Palestinians from the apartheid bi-national State of Israel and decolonizing Israeli Jews from the Zionist mindset of nationalistic ideology and domination. We see it as essential that the ODS take a new path, towards the creation of an entity that unifies its citizens under one cohesive identity. This alone gives us a chance of lasting future resolution.

This ‘One Secular State’ of non-nationalistic citizenship will be a Palestinian ‘state’ but not a Palestinian ‘nation-state’ according to the imported western state’ concept.‎ We see this as way of ‘re-inventing’ politics by adopting new ‎types of paradigms that render obsolete the colonial, nationalist and racist concepts characterizing Europe ‎at the end of the 19th century. The bi-national state, the ‘State-of-Two-Nations’, is the opposite of the post-national and ‎non-nationalist ‘One Secular Democratic State’ that we envisage and would have only one secular legal system for all citizens. Religious affiliation and practice would remain a purely private matter, rather than a public and collective ‎issue.

So how do we get there?

Halper’s claim that his peculiar version of democracy is the best way “to sell” the ODS proposition to Israeli Jews is particularly disturbing. It implies that the question will be resolved simply through “bargaining”, as if our goal as activists is only to convince through discussion, rather than to target the balance of power by every means possible through the hard work of political activism.

It’s clear to us that a real lasting “political settlement” will necessarily reflect an evolution of the balance of power in the field. This alone will be the conflict’s final resolution and mark the end of the wars, the repression and the suffering. ‎We agree with Halper that “we need a plan, a vision of the future, and an effective strategy for getting there”, but the One Democratic State also demands clarity, ‎factuality and determination – not ambiguity or equivocation.

Rather than bargaining or maneuvering so as to ‘sell’ the most easily palatable offer, we must create both conditions that call into question the ‘evidence’ used to validate the ‎dominant Zionist-national narrative and ideology and the means to provoke the beginning of awareness of ‎facts on the ground: The land of Palestine has now been completely annexed by the Zionist state, but Israel has yet to figure out what to do with ‎Palestine’s people. So far, mass deportations, population transfer, ethnic cleansing, massacres, forms of genocide and an apartheid ‎system of domination have all been tried and have yet to resolve this dilemma… What next?

Linking the Palestinian struggle for rights and justice, with a secular ODS political program could make the difference. Palestinians and non-Zionist Israeli Jews are invited to join in a ‎common struggle against Zionist domination of the land and of the “mindset” prevalent among its ‎Jewish population. ‎ What’s needed is to redefine the parameters and dynamics that have proved so destructive in the past, rather than simply repackaging them into an updated version of the same. Pragmatically speaking, Halper’s vision effectively resembles nothing so much as prophesy. It has no need for political struggle, it simply skips this step and jumps right to the desired result: ‎settlement. But what kind of settlement?

As a final note, we think it’s worth mentioning that the One Democratic State Campaign‎ is still in the process of consultation and opinions are as diverse as its members. Halper’s implication that his version has reached consensus could be mistaken as an attempt to impose his vision of a Bi-national State under the cover of One Democratic State. Please be aware that the debate is ongoing and open!

About Naji El Khatib

Naji El Khatib (b.1954) Originally from Jaffa, Naji grew up in a Palestinian refugee family exiled to Lebanon. He was active in the Palestinian national movement as of an early age and later worked as an assistant professor at An-Najah National University in Nablus. His most recently published books are " The Plurality of Thought Versus the Monolithic Obscurantism" (2016) and " The Gender and the Globalization of Concepts- Deconstructive Analysis"(2015).

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About Ofra Yeshua-Lyth

Ofra Yeshua-Lyth (b: 1950) Born and raised in Israel as a Zionist, Ofra served in the public relations department of the Israeli army. She was also a correspondent for what used to be Israel's second largest newspaper Maariv in Germany and in the US. Her book "Politically Incorrect: Why a Jewish State Is a Bad Idea"(2016) is an English version of a Hebrew book first published in 2004. A French version was published in 2018.

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88 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    June 26, 2018, 6:40 am

    “Today more than ever, people realize that the current regime of blatant ethnic discrimination will never end as long as the “Two States Solution” continues to be blindly repeated as the official, totally dishonest and irrelevant, mantra to ‘peace’. ”

    Repeated not least by Abbas and Co and their legion of jobworths. We still await the long threatened Erekat “handing back of the keys” and abandonment of the now blatantly absurd 2SS = only real move which will break the circle and lead to the only viable solution of the Z/P conflict a single secular state with equal rights for all of the inhabitants of Palestine including refugees.

    • echinococcus
      June 26, 2018, 11:27 am

      Ossinev,

      The one-state idea, with equal rights given to the genocidal invaders, is as much of a life-preserving compromise as the two-state fiction. Both are utopia as long as the US/rael doesn’t need to compromise, anyway.

      And both are not what the name tag says. “Equal rights” is far less than equal even in SA, where the oppressed are an overwhelming majority. And “2 states” will necessarily mean 1 state and 1 impotent American-controlled shithole. What the heck, both are better than what Palestinians have now. But where is the negotiating asset or threat that will force US(rael) to compromise? Could anyone please tell me? Their conscience? The hogtied US citizens?

  2. Tal
    June 26, 2018, 7:55 am

    Q: What will be the name of the state?
    A(ODS Answer): Democracy above all so lets vote. Majority wants the name “Israel”. So be it.
    A(Bi-National Answer): We need to consider the desires of both nations so we’ll call it Israel-Palestine

    That is just 1 example why the ODS will not work.

    • Talkback
      June 26, 2018, 9:37 am

      Tal: “Democracy above all so lets vote. Majority wants the name “Israel”.”

      Majority? The fake Jewish majority that only exist, because it keeps Nonjews expelled including their right to vote?

      So much for “Jewish democracy”.

      • Mooser
        June 26, 2018, 3:57 pm

        “The fake Jewish majority that only exist, because it keeps”

        Apart from the expelling, I wonder how far Israel inflated the definition of “Jewish” to get that majority. Probably until it burst.

    • echinococcus
      June 26, 2018, 10:50 am

      “Democracy”? No shoot. Zionist invaders don’t count. At the latest from the day the Basle Congress announced their hostile takeover intention. 1897. they are not Palestinians. All Palestinians must be included worldwide but not invaders.

      If the invaders agreed to a compromise (yarright, keep up the fairy tale) well of course some vote could be organized; only don’t insult people’s intelligence by calling that democracy, it is still under the boot.

  3. Ossinev
    June 26, 2018, 9:58 am

    “That is just 1 example why the ODS will not work.”

    The colonists and the natives of South Africa managed to move on from an Apartheid state without a name change. They have also managed to establish a single democratic state which has survived and largely prospered warts and all.

    The faux hand wringing over the name issue is symptomatic of Zionists refusal to give up on the Apartheid Status Quo which they have established and have self brainwashed themselves into thinking will last forever.

    Yes there will be major major difficulties in the transition including the likelihood of major civil conflict and thousands may well die as a result but simple ongoing never ending appeasement of the Apartheid State of Israel is no longer an option and it is IMHO the PA who have become the pivotal appeasers and the effective enablers of this grotesque status quo.

    If the PA were to pull the plug and no longer act as a pseudo Vichy authority on behalf of Zionism then I think a lot of Jewish Israelis will recognise that the game is up. Native born Palestinian Jews including those whose families go back many generations and those Zionists who arrived post Balfour will largely chose to stay. I would anticipate that a lot of those who arrived post 1948 would opt to go back to their native countries.

    • Tal
      June 26, 2018, 10:40 am

      “The faux hand wringing over the name issue is symptomatic of Zionists refusal to give up on the Apartheid Status Quo which they have established and have self brainwashed themselves into thinking will last forever.”

      a. I’m not a Zionist
      b. I do not refuse to give up on the Apartheid Status Que. Quite the opposite. I’m not sure that a Bi-national state is the best solution but I do believe that it does not entail discrimination. Belgium is a Bi-national state and I think that you’ll agree that it works fairly well.
      c. ““A gem cannot be polished without friction” so why the hostility? :-)

    • echinococcus
      June 26, 2018, 10:54 am

      If the PA were to pull the plug and no longer act as a pseudo Vichy authority on behalf of Zionism

      The amount of force needed to move the puppets is not different than that required to move their masters.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      June 26, 2018, 8:00 pm

      Name wasn’t a problem in South Africa because ‘South Africa’ is a purely geographical designation acceptable to almost everyone (some black Africans wanted ‘Azania’). Neither ‘Israel’ nor ‘Palestine’ is currently perceived as ethnically/religiously neutral. ‘Palestine’, however, did have this connotation before 1948 and could regain it, while ‘Israel’ is inherently Jewish. So of the two ‘Palestine’ is clearly preferable.

      But perhaps a third name can be found that is purely geographical like South Africa. One such possibility is ‘Jordan’ — after the river. I know that there already exists a state called Jordan, but if it would agree to be renamed Eastern Jordan then Palestine could become Western Jordan.

      • echinococcus
        June 26, 2018, 11:09 pm

        Shenfieldd,

        Wildly improbable castle-in-the-air building is an important part of disruptive propaganda.

        Before discussing nonsense like country name, etc., could we all please start by bringing at least some minimal evidence that may force the US/Zionists to make any concessions at all, or even any indications that it may ever be likely to happen, based on any historic precedent? Otherwise all we do is reinforce a stupid, ahistorical notion that all we have to do is to continue the useless talk –the lion is sotosay already lying with the lamb. Why, we are even discussing names!

        In the absence of any sign that Zionists may be forced to compromises it’s not the country name discussion that would be appropriate, but starting to understand the unheard-of level of violence that’s ahead.

      • RoHa
        June 27, 2018, 5:39 am

        But I’ve already offered “The Democratic and Socialist People’s Republic of the Holy Land”.

        Alternatively, “The Kingdom of Jerusalem” has a certain ring to it, but is probably too redolent of Crusaders. And you’d have to decide which of the various pretenders is the actual king.

      • DaBakr
        June 28, 2018, 2:20 am

        @s

        Well, since it’s just an idea, I’ll leave out the loud laughter the idea would generate.

      • DaBakr
        June 28, 2018, 2:21 am

        @ec

        Agree.

  4. echinococcus
    June 26, 2018, 11:42 am

    Admirable.

    I’d sign with both hands, except that this admirable vision has nothing to impose it to the US., and the invader riffraff are suicidal cannon fodder, manufactured by a huge social engineering operation.

    Also, as admirable as this proposal is, it remains, to use the authors’ words, a form of “bargaining or maneuvering so as to ‘sell’ the most easily palatable offer”. Because full justice means full restitution to its owners, the pre-1897 Palestinian people.

  5. echinococcus
    June 26, 2018, 11:56 am

    Let’s also note that Halper’s idea is one form of recreating the Ottoman Empire. The ideal of the current Imperial US identity politicians.

  6. Tal
    June 26, 2018, 12:04 pm

    “Zionist invaders don’t count”

    Do Israelis count?

    • Mooser
      June 26, 2018, 3:44 pm

      “Do Israelis count?”

      Apparently not very high, or they would know that the Zionist project did not attract enough Jews to make it successful on its own terms. And its peak has passed. So you can limp along like you are, or start making compromises.
      As a not-a-Zionist, your point-of-view is not distorted by messianic, religious or ethnic hopes, and you should be ready to deal with the failure of the Zionist project rationally.

      • DaBakr
        June 28, 2018, 2:23 am

        @mssr

        Yes. Israel is so “limping along” lol.

    • echinococcus
      June 26, 2018, 9:26 pm

      Tal (the Tal?)

      Certainly not, as they are the Zionist invaders who arrived under the protection of British colonial arms! Until 1897, there had been some 15 years of sneaky colonization but in 1897 the project was publicly and proudly outed as one of forcible takeover of the sovereignty of an invaded country. Period. The owners of the country are the Palestinians (of whom 4% were Jewish Palestinians, generally strongly opposed to the colonization), not the invaders. The owners of sovereignty have the right to define their governance and also the rules to follow for admission to citizenship, ie if based on place of birth like some English-speaking places, or on ancestry, like a lot of other places.
      The Azraelis do not exist as a single category, as they include 20% of victims of the initial invasion, who are part of a much wider Palestinian nation living both in the post-67 occupation area and around the world. Those only are legitimately entitled to decide the future of all Palestine. And, of course, the remaining 80% are illegal invader offspring, situation TBD according to a general Palestinian plebiscite.

      • Tal
        June 27, 2018, 9:20 am

        “The Tal?”

        Contrary to most people who post here, Tal is indeed my real name.
        Is echinococcus your real name?
        Is Mooser a real name (of a deer)? :-)

      • eljay
        June 27, 2018, 9:46 am

        || Tal: … Is Mooser a real name (of a deer)? :-) ||

        I’d say he’s more of a dear. ;-)

      • echinococcus
        June 27, 2018, 11:11 am

        Tal,

        If a “real” name it entirely loses interest.

      • Mooser
        June 27, 2018, 1:57 pm

        “Is Mooser a real name “

        It’s my last name. The clerk at Ellis Island added an “o”.

  7. Ossinev
    June 26, 2018, 1:39 pm

    @Tal
    My hand wringing reference was aimed at Zionists who will come up with any and every excuse including the “name of the state” dilemna to avoid what is staring them in the face. I apologise if it offended you personally as a non – Zionist. Yes Belgium works fairly well but there have always been tensions between French and Flemish speaking ethnic populations. The same applies to Canada/Quebec. Both are considered to be “binational” because of the distinct ethnic backgrounds of two elements in the national population. The official “binational” nature of both countries goes back to 1830 in the case of Belgium and 1867 in the case of Canada.They are completly different from Palestine with its mass liquorice allsorts infusion of colonising Jewish foreign nationals from 1920 onwards.

    The point I have tried to make is that the status quo in Palestine is simply unsustainable. IMHO there will be a breaking point for the PA under pressure from a frustrated and angry younger generation of Palestinians to abandon the ludicrous and yes Utopian idea of two states. It may be in the short term,it may be in the longer term but it will happen. I believe that it is the younger generation of Palestinians who will be the puppet removing force Echo refers to.I.E. Force from within and in due course a meaningful force from without = the inevitable hostility from the outside world to what will clearly be an Apartheid state once the PA is forced from within to give up on the sham pursuit of a 2SS.

  8. Juergen
    June 26, 2018, 3:40 pm

    I tend to agree with the idea of the ODS. Let’s be careful not to totally discredit or demonize those who have alternative visions for the way forward. As said above, this is an ongoing dialogue.

    I am reminded of the debates in both Rhodesia and South Africa in the years before both experienced their political transitions to a form of democracy. “Group rights” were considered for a while but rejected in the end for individual rights, as this article proposes. In both countries (Zimbabwe and South Africa) there was bloodshed in the transitions, but less than might have been if no compromises had been reached. In both cases the first few years went well but both deteriorated politically, with Zimbabwe still not returned to a democracy.

    One last thought: is anyone thinking about the options of a confederation with Jordan, Lebanon and in time, Syria? The present borders are quite artificial. Perhaps a wider cooperation at least along economic lines , would benefit all? But it would be even more disconcerting for certain minorities, to be thrown in with all of the factions in these three countries.

    Let the debate continue. There are many more options than only two.

    • Blake Alcott
      June 28, 2018, 5:38 am

      Naji and Ofra are not ‘discrediting’ or ‘demonizing’ Jeff Halper (or the ODS Campaign). They are simply arguing vehemently against his proposal to give ethno-religiously-defined groups legal standing in the new single state that would replace Israel. They are arguing for secularism, that is. And they are 100% right!
      It is curious that none of the Commenters are commenting on what Naji and Ofra actually wrote about – their clear and informed demonstration of one crucial difference among people who say they are supporting ODS.
      The ODS groups I belong to – ODS in Palestine Ltd http://www.odspal.jimdo.com and the Popular Movement for ODS http://www.ods-palestine.ps – adhere to the Munich Declaration, a one-page document whose Articles 4 and 5 clearly describe and endorse secularism. We however to date for tactical reasons have chosen to leave the WORD secular out of our name, and would like to work together with Naji and Ofra’s Popular Movement for a Secular Democratic State or, as they also put it, ‘secular ODS’.

  9. Nathan
    June 26, 2018, 9:54 pm

    The caption tells us that the barbed wire shown in the photo was meant to separate Jews and Arabs. It’s not so. The barbed wire was meant to protect the British troops from attack. The area enclosed by the barbed wire is the Russian Compound where the British army was encamped.

    The article asks: “So how do we get there?” However, the answer wasn’t given. Whenever I read such unrealistic political programs, I wonder how the author imagines achieving the goal outlined in the article. Apparently, the authors don’t have a clue themselves, because they didn’t even try to outline any line of action besides the ambiguous “political struggle”.

    If you want to replace the existing State of Israel with a different state through a “political struggle”, I would humbly suggest to our authors to consider outlining the reasons why the Israeli Jews should agree to the dismantling of their state. Surely, there was space in the article to give just one good argument why it would be in their interest to do so. I can’t think of any on my own, so I feel let down by Mondoweiss.

    The Palestinian Arabs do not regard the Israel Jews to be legitimate residents of the country. Accepting the Israel Jews as equal citizens in the imagined single Palestinian state would be regarded by the Palestinians as acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish immigration during the Mandate and since the founding of Israel. That’s not too likely. Surely the article could have explained how suddenly “invaders” will become accepted as equal citizens. If it’s not already too much to expect that the Jews will give up on their very successful state, obviously it is absurd to expect them to exchange it for the prospect of eventual expulsion.

    It seems to me that in the anti-Israel world there is a basic misunderstanding of how the world operates. Generally, intelligent people understand that different people see the world differently. They (intelligent people) should be able to view the world through the eyes of others. If you want to make a political proposal, give it a moment’s thought if someone else is even able to consider it at all. The Jews see themselves as the returning sons and daughters of their ancient homeland. They see the founding of their state as the fulfillment of ancient dreams, and the result of a very dramatic struggle. You’re not going to get them to give it all up by explaining to them that this is all illegitimate, and expecting them to place their destiny in the hands of those who hate them.

    There’s a lot of animosity in this article – and that’s the fundamental flaw in the anti-Israel presentation of ideas and suggestions. It’s hard to believe that those presenting their ideas for a supposed better future really have good intentions. They don’t, obviously.

    • bcg
      June 27, 2018, 12:00 am

      @Nathan: ” I would humbly suggest to our authors to consider outlining the reasons why the Israeli Jews should agree to the dismantling of their state.”

      1. What were the reasons that convinced the white South Africans to dismantle apartheid?
      2. “dismantling of their state” – what an interesting linguistic construct: change == destruction, dismantling. What did it feel like to dismantle your sleep state when you got up this morning? Did you dismember the 10 year old Nathan you once were?

      • Nathan
        July 2, 2018, 5:15 am

        And, nevertheless, bcg, what would be the reason that the Jews should agree to dismantle their state. I, personally, can’t think of any good reason. It seems to be a very successful state, it enjoys a real population explosion and its citizens are very happy (and the weather is nice, too). The article offers a one-state solution without explaining why anyone would be interested. Let’s hear your definition of the interests of the Israelis and why giving up would enhance those interests.

      • eljay
        July 2, 2018, 9:53 am

        || Nathan: … what would be the reason that the Jews should agree to dismantle their state. … ||

        IMO the state of Israel shouldn’t be dismantled but it should be reformed…
        – from a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews;
        – to the state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

    • RoHa
      June 27, 2018, 5:57 am

      “Accepting the Israel Jews as equal citizens in the imagined single Palestinian state would be regarded by the Palestinians as acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish immigration during the Mandate and since the founding of Israel. ”

      Not necessarily. The Palestinians could say “the Jewish immigration was illegitimate, but since you are now here, we will, as an act of grace, accept you as equal citizens.”

      That is certainly more likely than the Israeli Jews spontaneously accepting Palestinians as equal human beings.

      For I think you are right about the Israeli point of view. (And I think many of the commenters would agree.) The Israelis have no conscience to appeal to, no sense of right and wrong. Grace and decency are alien concepts to them. They just want to take all of Palestine and get rid of all Palestinians.

      And, like you, I don’t know how to divert them from their evil path.

      • echinococcus
        June 27, 2018, 11:26 am

        RoHa,

        “Nathan” seems to know more than other people when he acts so sure of the negative result of a hypothetical Palestinian plebiscite. Maybe he knows that Zionist behavior has been the opposite of what he’s trying to sell us.

    • eljay
      June 27, 2018, 8:08 am

      || Nathan: … If you want to replace the existing State of Israel with a different state through a “political struggle”, I would humbly suggest to our authors to consider outlining the reasons why the Israeli Jews should agree to the dismantling of their state. … ||

      If Zionists want Israel to continue to exist as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of conquered and colonized geographic Palestine, I would humbly suggest that they consider outlining the reasons why non-Jewish inhabitants of geographic Palestine should agree to being second-class citizens in a supremacist state (if they’re “lucky”) / victims of a deliberately colonialist and (war) criminal regime..

      || … Generally, intelligent people understand that different people see the world differently. They (intelligent people) should be able to view the world through the eyes of others. If you want to make a political proposal, give it a moment’s thought if someone else is even able to consider it at all. The Jews see themselves as the returning sons and daughters of their ancient homeland. They see the founding of their state as the fulfillment of ancient dreams, and the result of a very dramatic struggle. You’re not going to get them to give it all up by explaining to them that this is all illegitimate, and expecting them to place their destiny in the hands of those who hate them. … ||

      You’ve packed a lot of anti-Semitism into just one paragraph:

      1. It’s not just some (or even most) Jews who “see themselves as the returning sons and daughters of their ancient homeland” – it’s collectively “[t]he Jews”.

      2. “The Jews” are either…
      – not “intelligent people” because they are incapable of viewing the injustice and immorality of their ideology, their actions and their colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state through the eyes of their victims; or,
      – evil because they are able to view the injustice and immorality of their ideology, their actions and their colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state through the eyes of their victims but refuse to do anything about it.

    • Blake Alcott
      June 28, 2018, 5:48 am

      Nathan, you are starting from the wrong premise. Although Jeff Halper did indeed write in terms of ‘convincing’ Jewish Israelis of ODS, nobody I know in the ODS movement thinks such arguing or convincing will in the mid-term reach more than a small minority of Jewish Israelis (after all, Palestinians and democrats have been trying to argue Zionism out of Zionists for 100 years!), and they all endorse forcing the majority of Jewish Israelis to honour the Palestinians’ right of return and peacefully accept the replacement of their ethnocracy with a democracy. The obvious place to start such forcing is BDS, upgraded to include Sanctions by other states against Israel. Nothing against convincing and arguing, but without such pressure ODS will not happen.
      So read some ODS literature. You’ll see that all of us are working hard on the ‘how to get there’ problem. There are other ideas than just BDS, like starting with a fully equal democracy for all now between the river and the sea, then legislating right of return. Besides, only for anti-intellectuals does failure in the beginning to already present a complete roadmap to success disqualify a vision: think anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, anti-SA Apartheid, anti-French colonisation of Algeria and Vietnam, and even think Zionism if you want. They all succeeded, Zionism albeit only for the time being.

      • Nathan
        July 2, 2018, 8:52 pm

        Blake Alcott – You claim that “all of us are working hard on the ‘how to get there’ problem”. Yes, I’m certain that all of you are working very hard, but I would imagine that your work is similar to flooring the gas pedal while the car is still in “neutral”.

        Here’s the basic weakness of the various proposals for “getting there”. All of the proposals are based on an obviously deep hostility towards Israel and the Jews who live there. It’s impossible to take them seriously.

        Many years ago, I had a very interesting talk with a Holocaust survivor. She escaped from the ghetto with two small children, and the three of them went to hide in the forest. It’s very cold in Poland in the winter time, so I found it so surprising that a mother would decide on hiding in the forest when the Germans are promising bread and jam for those starving Jews who show up for deportation to the camps in the east. So, she explained her logic: “If it’s so good to go to the train and it’s really in our best interest, why are the Germans so violent about it?”

        It’s hard to imagine that you really believe that BDS can twist the arm of Israeli society. Everyone understands the meaning of all the overwhelming animosity that stands out in all the “well-meaning” proposals that you work so hard on.

    • zaid
      June 28, 2018, 10:25 am

      ” Whenever I read such unrealistic political programs”

      It is not only realistic, it is actually the most likely solution since the world will not tolerate an apartheid state and the overall trend on earth is globalism and multiculturalism.

      “why the Israeli Jews should agree to the dismantling of their state.”

      Isolation and economic pressure will force them and public opinion will change.

      “The Palestinian Arabs do not regard the Israel Jews to be legitimate residents of the country. Accepting the Israel Jews as equal citizens in the imagined single Palestinian state would be regarded by the Palestinians as acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish immigration during the Mandate and since the founding of Israel. That’s not too likely.”

      Currently 30% of Palestinians accept the 1SS and i dont see a reason why this number wont be 60 or 70% in the near future.

      “Surely the article could have explained how suddenly “invaders” will become accepted as equal citizens.”

      Just likethe Natives in America,Canada, Australia,South Africa…etc accepted.

      “If it’s not already too much to expect that the Jews will give up on their very successful state, obviously it is absurd to expect them to exchange it for the prospect of eventual expulsion.”

      What expulsion!

      “It seems to me that in the anti-Israel world there is a basic misunderstanding of how the world operates.”

      Actually we know exactly how the world operates , ethnocentric and racial ideologies like Zionism have no place in modern and future thinking.It is an old backward Idea.

    • Talkback
      June 28, 2018, 2:09 pm

      Nathan: “The Palestinian Arabs do not regard the Israel Jews to be legitimate residents of the country. Accepting the Israel Jews as equal citizens in the imagined single Palestinian state would be regarded by the Palestinians as acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish immigration during the Mandate and since the founding of Israel. That’s not too likely.”

      Blatant lies, Nathan. The one state solution, a secular democratic state with minority rights was the Palestinian proposal in 1947. But the Zionist Jews tried to prevent any kind of majority ruling as long as they were a minority. We know the crimes they did to become a majority and what the crims they still commit to maintain being one. That’s how democratic they have been from the get go. That’s why they have to call their democracy a “Jewish democracy”. It just means a Zionist perversion of democracy.

      • Blake Alcott
        July 13, 2018, 6:52 am

        Nathan (2 or 3 Comments up) is calling us anti-semitic (anti-Jewish) without using the word. That’s slander. He says we have ‘animosity’ towards Israel (true) and the Jews who live there (false). The Israeli Jews, in most ODS visions, would be citizens of the state, first, and second, we have no general animosity towards Israeli Jews. They must be looked at as individuals; some are upright people, some are Zionists. Nathan’s fallacy is that it is as Jews that we have animosity towards the colonists and oppressors and ethnic cleansers and murderers who took Palestine away from the Palestinians. It’s not. It’s as colonists and oppressors and ethnic cleansers and murderers. Get it? We’d have the same feelings, and sense of justice, had the invaders been Christians (remember the Crusades, and the British Mandate?) or Hindus or Martians. Slander without proof, that’s Nathan’s game.
        Also, when will people stop thinking of Palestine in terms of Israel and Jews and start thinking of it in terms of Palestinians???

  10. rhkroell
    June 27, 2018, 12:50 am

    “The Jews see themselves as the returning sons and daughters of their ancient homeland. They see the founding of their state as the fulfillment of ancient dreams, and the result of a very dramatic struggle. You’re not going to get them to give it all up by explaining to them that this is all illegitimate, and expecting them to place their destiny in the hands of those who hate them.”

    Agreed. The ethnonational (or racist) ideology of Zionism, like the ethnonational (or racist) ideology of Nazism, must be condemned — in the strongest terms possible — by the international community (and/or the U.S. military and its allies). The Zionist State will have to be dismantled by U.S. military (and/or a “coalition of the willing”) force — boots on the ground. There is no solution — realistically — other than military force.

    Zionists can choose to live in little itsby-bitsy walled-off, ethnic enclaves scattered around the world, but their racist state must be dismantled, and Zionists must remove themselves — or be removed by force — from Palestine. Zionists must be forced to comprehend, like the Amish and Mennonites, that they have no standing in the modern World System.

  11. inbound39
    June 27, 2018, 2:52 am

    The fundamental flaw in Israel’s argument to continue as it is ,is the obvious illegitimate apartheid rules that have evolved over decades within it. If we do nothing then that evil will continue. Murder of Palestinians will continue. Palestinian historic sites will be demolished and lost. People with no historic connection to the Middle East will continue to have more rights than the indigenous. Ethnic cleansing will continue and Israel will be the largest creator of refugees in history. Israel unrestrained is a threat to Syria and Lebanon and all that land encompassed by the Yinon Plan. Israel cannot be left unopposed. It meddles intently in infiltrating the governments of Britain, America and Australia with damaging and destabilising results. The good people of the World cannot turn a blind eye to Israel just as a blind eye was not cast on National Socialism in Germany in 1939. Israel has set itself up as a supremacist racist state. The World at some point will bring it down……diplomatically or by force but it will go.

  12. Ossinev
    June 27, 2018, 6:56 am

    @Nathan
    “Generally, intelligent people understand that different people see the world differently”
    Generally intelligent people expect other people who claim to be intelligent to see the world intelligently.
    “The Jews see themselves as the returning sons and daughters of their ancient homeland. They see the founding of their state as the fulfillment of ancient dreams”
    That is not intelligent thinking. It is fruitcake fantasy thinking.

  13. David Gerald Fincham
    June 27, 2018, 1:01 pm

    Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs will never abandon their national identities and characters in favour of an amorphous “seculardemocracyness”. The bi-national state idea was accepted by the Zionists in the 1921 Carlsbad Resolution and is implicit in the Mandate. In my view it is the only possible long-term solution. Would readers please search for “the one-state-two-nations proposal”. I would much appreciate your comments, either here or there.

    • Mooser
      June 27, 2018, 4:02 pm

      “Mr. Fincham” what is the minimum number of “Israeli Jews” needed to be a “national identity”?

      • Mooser
        June 27, 2018, 9:17 pm

        “Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs will never abandon their national identities.”

        How’s that for equivalency Hasbara?

      • echinococcus
        June 27, 2018, 10:12 pm

        Fincham,

        So a “long-term solution” is one that is monstrously unjust to one side and gives an unearned advantage forever to the other.

        Tells us a lot about your understanding of occupied peoples.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        June 28, 2018, 3:10 am

        OED definition of ‘nation’: A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory. How big is ‘large’?

      • Mooser
        June 28, 2018, 3:35 pm

        ” How big is ‘large’?”

        Oh, at least large enough to fill up our own gene pool, for one thing. But let it pass.
        How about large enough to accomplish their national aims, and not be a dependent on outside support?

        “united by common descent, history, culture, or language”

        And the desire to put through a genocidal colonial scheme, which somehow brings together all the rest, donnit?

      • Maghlawatan
        June 28, 2018, 5:12 pm

        Israelis have no shared culture other than trauma, no shared history other than fantasy and no shared values other than nihilism.

    • eljay
      June 27, 2018, 6:55 pm

      || David Gerald Fincham: Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs will never abandon their national identities and characters in favour of an amorphous “seculardemocracyness”. … ||

      That’s really too bad, especially for those Jews and non-Jews in geographic Palestine who would be willing to live in one or two secular and democratic states that respect equality, human rights and international laws.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        June 28, 2018, 4:00 am

        In the one-state-two-nations proposal the state is secular, democratic, respects equality, human rights and international laws. The two nations are democratic, respect equality and human rights, and have complete freedom of religion. It is a pity you did not read it.

        You and the authors have failed to understand the positive role that religion can play in national life. It is not about the imposition of religious law. The model for the one-state-two-nations proposal is the union of England and Scotland. Both nations have established churches. In the days before Scotland gained its own parliament, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, attended by the monarch or her representative, acted in many ways to influence the UK parliament on issues relevant to the Scottish people. I remember the time when the House of Lords, including some of the bishops of the Church of England, provided the only effective opposition to the government of Margaret Thatcher.

      • eljay
        June 28, 2018, 7:23 am

        || David Gerald Fincham: In the one-state-two-nations proposal the state is secular, democratic, respects equality, human rights and international laws. The two nations are democratic, respect equality and human rights, and have complete freedom of religion. … ||

        I’m confused: What are the key differences between…
        – “an amorphous ‘seculardemocracyness'” comprising one or two secular and democratic states of and for their respective citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally, with respect for equality, human rights, international laws and freedom of religion; and
        – a “one-state-two-nations proposal” in which “the state is secular, democratic, respects equality, human rights and international laws. The two nations are democratic, respect equality and human rights, and have complete freedom of religion”,
        …that make the latter appealing but the former repulsive to the Jews and non-Jews in geographic Palestine?

    • Nathan
      June 27, 2018, 8:25 pm

      David Gerald Fincham – It is totally unrealistic and absolutely impossible that the Arab side of the conflict will accept a bi-national solution. In order to understand why this is the case, one must be familiar with the Arab position. The term “bi-national state” means that there are TWO NATIONAL communities sharing a single state (the Jews and the Arabs). The Palestinians claim that the Jews are only a religious community, and hence they have no homeland. If the Palestinians were to accept a bi-national solution, they would be admitting that the Jews are a national community, and therefore Palestine is their national territory. In other words, they would be accepting the legitimacy of Zionism (which defines the Jews as a nation and the Land of Israel as their homeland). There is no way in the world that the Palestinians are going to end the conflict based on a bi-national state, so it is not a solution.

      The 1947 Partition Plan called for the founding of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine. In other words, the United Nations defined the Jews as a national community, entitled to statehood. The plan was rejected by the Palestinians then, and they still reject it today. Their point of view is that Palestine is the homeland of only one national community (the Palestinian Arabs).

      Both your idea of bi-nationalism and the idea presented in the above article are non-starters from the Palestinian point of view. In order to solve a conflict, one must know how to define correctly the very reason of conflict – and then you can propose an idea that solves that very reason of conflict. If the conflict was born because a single state for two communities did not come into being, then probably a proposal for a single state for the two communities would bring the conflict to its end. However, that is not the reason that the conflict came into being. The Arabs reject the legitimacy of the yishuv (the Hebrew-speaking community); so, a proposal that accepts the permanancy of the yishuv is not going to be accepted, period.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        June 28, 2018, 9:51 am

        A peace agreement requires the consent of both peoples. I understand that there was no legitimacy to the creation of Israel, either legal or moral. Nevertheless, the State of Israel exists and, by virtue of its recognition by other States and by its membership of the United Nations, has a right to continue to exist. The same applies to the State of Palestine, which has already recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. The main log-jam in the peace process has been the failure of Israel to reciprocate and recognize the right of Palestine to exist in peace and security.

        I do not say that ‘the Jews’ constitute a nation, nor that there is an Arab Nation. I say that Jewish Israelis constitute a nation, as do Palestinian Arabs. See the definition of ‘nation’ in my reply to Mooser. Israel IS the homeland of Jewish Israelis, most of them have been settled there for at least a generation, or else born there. You say that ‘the Arabs’ will not accept the permanancy of the Israeli Jewish community in Palestine. I do not accept that. The PLO has accepted it, Hamas has sort of accepted it by offering a long-term truce with Israel, and most Palestinians are sufficiently intelligent to realise that there is no way that Israel could be forced to disappear.

        The reason for the continuation of the conflict, is that there are two nations in Palestine, but they both want sovereignty over ALL the territory of Palestine. The one-state-two-nations proposal (please read it) solves the conflict by giving each nation sovereignty over all of Palestine, on a shared basis, through the parliament and government of the United State, while allowing the Israel and Palestine nations to continue their national lives and identities under their own parliaments.

        NOTE FOR Echinococcus. You say: So a “long-term solution” is one that is monstrously unjust to one side and gives an unearned advantage forever to the other.”

        The one-state-two-nations proposal treats both nations on an equal basis. Please read it carefully before jumping to condemn it. I know the extent of the injustice that has been done to the Palestinians, and they need to be recompensed for that. That recompence should occur in the process leading up to the final settlement.

      • bcg
        June 28, 2018, 10:24 am

        @Nathan: All this apparently without having talked to any actual Palestinians, based on some idealized version of what some imagined community thought in 1947, according to some fictionalized account of what ‘Arabs’ think.

        What’s your vision of the end game, Nathan? Surely you know that any possibility of political separation between the two peoples grows more remote every day.

      • echinococcus
        June 28, 2018, 12:55 pm

        Fincham,

        by its membership of the United Nations, has a right to continue to exist

        Where did you pull that nonsense out of? Hallucinating? The only right that (abusive, llegitimate) membership creates is that to be protected from aggression by other sovereign states, period. A right totally unrecognized by the US and its allies, anyway.

        The same applies to the State of Palestine, which

        most definitely does not exist!

        …has already recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security

        just as the Nazi occupation governments of local traitor puppets had recognized the right of Nazi German occupation to exist in peace and security.

      • echinococcus
        June 28, 2018, 1:25 pm

        NOTE FOR Echinococcus. You say: So a “long-term solution” is one that is monstrously unjust to one side and gives an unearned advantage forever to the other.”

        NOTE FOR Fincham. Look up “long-term”. Understand its difference from “short-term”. Look up “solution” and “compromise”. Give me one example of a people who, without having been exterminated by a genocide, accepted a “long-term solution” of living forever with intruders who continue to impose their hostile presence over the owners of the place.

        Long-term solutions, mainly unresented by most people, hence stable, include a healthy amount of justice. Justice is not the same as bribing your own puppets. You write “both peoples” but you seem to intend by it the Zionist-US puppet Quislings on the victims’ side.

        This whole discussion is nothing but architecture of castles in the air, too. Your own introductory sentence says

        A peace agreement requires the consent of both peoples.

        So it won’t even be worth discussing before there is an agreement by, or at least the first even little concession from, the invader crazies.

      • Talkback
        June 28, 2018, 2:16 pm

        Finchham: “I say that Jewish Israelis constitute a nation, as do Palestinian Arabs.”

        And that’s wrong. Palestinians have been a constitutive people since 1925. It has nothing to do with being Jewish or Nonjewish/Arab. Jews are not a constitutive people. You can’t become an Jewish Israeli or a Palestinian Arab by acquiring any citizenship. So Israelis constitute a nation, as do Palestinians.

      • Nathan
        July 2, 2018, 4:56 am

        David Gerald Fincham – You answer that you “do not accept” my observation that the Palestinians will not accept the existence of the yishuv (the Hebrew-speaking community). Obviously, this conflict is not about what makes sense to you. You change the terminology in your answer (instead of the Jews’ constituting a national community, you say that the “Jewish Israelis are a nation”). Your assumption is that if the new terminology makes sense to you then it surely makes sense to the Palestinians. Well, life’s not so simple. The Palestinians will never accept your idea of a bi-national state. They reject the very idea that there is another nation that sees the country as its homeland, period. The Palestinians envision ultimate victory over the Jews (or the “Jewish Israelis” as you prefer to define them), and the only way to ensure such a victory in the distant future is by refusing to accept any final arrangement in the present.

        The PLO recognized Israel, but it does not recognize Israel (notice the past tense and present tense forms of the verb). The “long-term truce” that Hamas is offering is a ten-year offer. Why you would feel that this is a “sort of recognition of Israel” is beyond me. Israel would have to end the occupation, allow for the founding of a Palestinian state and return all the refugees – and then Hamas would agree to continue the conflict after a ten-year break. How nice of them. The question for you is the following: If a Palestinian state will be founded, the occupation ends and all the refugees return to their former homes, then why would there be a conflict after ten years? You would think that the issues have all been resolved. Well, here’s a hint: Apparently this is not a conflict about occupation, statehood and refugees. There is some other grievance that is the real issue of conflict.

        Here’s a little lesson for you in Arabic. It might help in figuring out how someone else sees reality. The term “salaam” in Arabic is translated into English as “peace” – but it doesn’t mean “peace” (i.e. tranquility and harmony). It means “surrender” (it’s the same root s.l.m. that gives us the word “Islam”, surrender to Allah). In short, when someone offers you “salaam”, it’s not that he seeks to live with you in harmony. He simply has no choice, so he surrenders (for the time being) as his best option. It’s not idealism at all. When the circumstances change, the hostilities will be renewed. The PLO recognized Israel (i.e. there was no choice), but they don’t recognize Israel, period. Hamas offers a ten-year deal, but obviously it is not the end of conflict. The conflict is permanent (all the conflicts in the Arab world last forever).

      • RoHa
        July 3, 2018, 8:55 am

        ” The conflict is permanent (all the conflicts in the Arab world last forever).”

        Bit daft of the Zionists to start a conflict with Arabs, then.

      • eljay
        July 3, 2018, 9:52 am

        || RoHa: ” The conflict is permanent (all the conflicts in the Arab world last forever).”

        Bit daft of the Zionists to start a conflict with Arabs, then. ||

        It’s not the fault of Zionists. Arabs hate “the Jews” so much they cleverly tricked…
        – most of the world’s Jews into becoming Zionists;
        – Zionist Jews into establishing a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine;
        – the “Jewish State” into militarily-occupying and colonizing territory outside of its / Partition borders and committing decades’ worth (and counting) of (war) crimes against Palestine’s indigenous population,
        …in order to realize “ultimate victory over the Jews”.

      • RoHa
        July 3, 2018, 9:32 pm

        “The conflict is permanent (all the conflicts in the Arab world last forever).”

        And there is an answer to your question of why the Israeli Jews should not continue on their current course. Their supremacy will not last forever, or even for a thousand years.

      • Talkback
        July 4, 2018, 9:10 am

        Nathan: “The conflict is permanent (all the conflicts in the Arab world last forever).”

        Well, just replace “Arab” with “Jewish” to recognize how racist your comment is.

        Nathan: “You answer that you “do not accept” my observation that the Palestinians will not accept the existence of the yishuv (the Hebrew-speaking community).”

        Which is of course another racist statement. They used to baby sit for each others children until the Zionist invasion of Palestine. Can you imagine that? A Jew given his most precious to a Nonjewish Arab in Paletsine? You can’t imagine that. You are blinded by your racism and because of your denial that Zionism has NOTHING to do with co existence, but only with conquer an Jewish dominance.

        Nathan: “The PLO recognized Israel, but it does not recognize Israel (notice the past tense and present tense forms of the verb).”

        ROFL. So which was the last time Israel recognized another state present tense? Do they still recognize the United States of America?

        Much more relevant. When did the Zionist Apartheid Junta ever recognize the State of Palestine? Present or past tense?

        Nathan: “The “long-term truce” that Hamas is offering is a ten-year offer. Why you would feel that this is a “sort of recognition of Israel” is beyond me.”

        Hamas is not PLO. Hamas does not officially represent the Palestinians. Hamas goal is to liberate all of historic Palestine. Like the Likud goverment of Israel wants to keep all of historic Palestine. In fact there has never been a single Israeli goverment that endorsed the idea of two fully souvereign states in historic Palestine. It was only lip service in 1948 to establish a Zionist state as a bridghead to reestablish immigration. And it is still lip service and means only Palestinian bantustans since the Oslo accords.

      • catalan
        July 4, 2018, 9:57 am

        “You are blinded by your racism and because of your denial that Zionism has NOTHING to do with co existence”
        Yes he is. However, with BDS, we don’t have to worry about Israeli racism because BDS will force two states based on partition lines and the return of the refugees. BDS worked in South Africa and will work in Palestine. If it wasn’t working, Israel wouldn’t be spending 30 million a year to fight it (which is futile anyway). The moral universe always progresses towards justice and away from nationalism.

      • eljay
        July 4, 2018, 11:54 am

        || catalan: … The moral universe always progresses towards justice and away from nationalism. ||

        The moral universe always does its best to progress toward justice, accountability and equality. Supremacists and other evil-doers always do their best to drag it back into the gutter of injustice and immorality.

      • catalan
        July 4, 2018, 2:04 pm

        “Supremacists and other evil-doers always do their best to drag it back into the gutter of injustice and immorality.”
        Yes – however we, the righteous ones, will defeat them. We have BDS and they are running scared: that’s why they spend 30 million a year to fight it, but in vain.

      • eljay
        July 4, 2018, 3:08 pm

        || catalan: … Yes – however we, the righteous ones, will defeat them. … ||

        Yeah, well, I’m not “righteous” and you’re just smarmy.

  14. Jeff Halper
    June 28, 2018, 5:06 pm

    In Israel we have a saying: Just because we agree doesn’t mean its the end of the argument. Besides the rhetoric, that pretty well sums up the differences between Naji and Ofra’s vision of a single democratic state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River (representing The Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State) and the one I put forth (representing in principle, if not on every detail, the program of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC). While the vision of a single democratic state represents a radical, necessary and urgent departure from the irrelevancies of the two-state solution in all its variations, the details, emphases and language recall the arcane splits that divide and ultimately neutralize many initiatives of the Left, best lampooned in The Life of Brian as that between the “Judean People’s Front” and the “People’s Front of Judea.”

    The ODSC program I presented rests on three main principles:

    1. While all the inhabitants of the country will continue to live there, plus the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, all structures of domination and repression will be dismantled. As I wrote, our program states outright that “No group or collectivity will have any privileges, nor will any group, party or collectivity have the ability to leverage any control or domination over others.” The new country (for which we do not have a name as yet, that will emerge in time) will be a constitutional democracy that guarantees absolute equal civil rights to all its citizens: one citizenship, one parliament, one civil society, no bi-nationalism.

    2. Having said that, it is clear we also have to make provision for, and recognize, collective identities. Human beings do not exist as mere individuals; they “belong” to wider communities — in fact, to many overlapping communities from broad categories like gender, class and national down to networks of like-minded people and on to tightly-knit communities of members. Some, like religion, span the entire continuum. Palestinians and Israeli Jews have been struggling for their national identities and rights for more than a century. Regardless of one’s position on that, to ignore collective identities, the aspiration for self-determination, or to pretend they do not exist or are not relevant or legitimate, is simply to repress a vital element of our society — ands a vital element of our society — and repression doesn’t exactly go with the democratic values we all claim to value.

    The point is that social space must be allocated to these collective identities (which in fact go beyond Palestinians and Israeli Jews; our country also contains Druze, Bedouin, ethnic Russians, foreign workers who stay and, not least, 40,000 African asylum-seekers, many of who are already integrating into society — a truly multi-cultural mix). Indeed, “Palestinian” is not a unitary community and Palestinians entertain a wide variety of sub-identities, views and experiences; neither are “Israeli Jews.” Naji and Ofra conflate constitutional protection of collective rights with a bi-national system, which we explicitly reject. Unlike a bi-national system in which national rights and privileges are embedded in the political system, a democratic state that acknowledges and protects the right of peoples to their identities, cultures, forms of association and even narrative merely provides space for people to choose to what degree they want to remain within their cultural communities or mix — with no privileges or ability to leverage that into domination, since the Constitution withholds from parliament the right to discriminate against any community, just as the American Constitution limits Congress’ ability to pass unconstitutional laws.

    Ofra fears — and she has said this to me many times — that allowing cultural or religious identities to survive will perpetuate “patriarchy.” That is one reason why she so insistently supports a “secular” state, which we do as well. Our projected state is fundamentally secular — Article 1 of our program lays “the authority to govern and make laws emanating from the consent of the governed” — not on any religious or tribal law. The vast majority of Palestinians and the majority of Israel Jews are not secular; on the contrary. What do we do with that? Impose our own brand of secularism — not very democratic even if we could actually do it? Assuming that we must bring into the political process as many people as possible, we are just trying to be smart. Why use the red-flag term “secular” when you can accomplish the same thing legally and structurally without alienating people? This Naji and Ofra apparently consider selling out. They denigrate “bargaining” with the public in favor of “political activism.” I would call both communicating persuasively with the public AND focused political activism related forms of engagement, both of which are necessary for eventually creating the society we envision.

    Ofra also seems to assume that patriarchy cannot arise in secular societies. China is an example of a society and state that is thoroughly, explicitly and aggressively secular, but is extremely patriarchal. Britain, on the other hand, is a country with a State Church (Anglican) but has made great strides towards gender equality, many of them advocated by the church itself, which supports both women’s and LGQBT rights. There is no necessary correlation between religion, the state and patriarchy. Nor is there a necessary dichotomy between a “religious” state and a “secular” one. There are many gradations, and religion itself can be progressive or its teachings reigned in by countervailing laws, norms, etc. To take a single issue — patriarchy and religion — and base an entire process of trying to resolve a political conflict involving people with both strong religious and secular elements in their cultures on whether they conform to your idea of secularism, seems to me extremely narrow and, actually, a little scary. Who is going to enforce secularism, and in what ways?

    3. The emphasis on collective rights rather than bi-nationalism allows yet another important development: the emergence of a common civil society. This is the heart of our program yet is overlooked by Naji and Ofra. The exciting, new, challenging, hopeful part of our program is not the dismantling of the present system of apartheid, but the vision of a new civil society that will emerge over generations of us all living together in equality. The Palestinian football (soccer) team is ranked internationally higher than Israel’s. Together we, too, can qualify for the Mondial World Cup championship. This is the stuff common civil identities are made of, although they do not erase other identities as well. I can’t believe that this is not a vision Naji and Ofra would embrace. Its good and important to focus on the problems and dangers of any political program — and our is still in its early stages — but not at the expense of losing the vision and the ability to restructure society in more egalitarian ways.

    Lastly, how do we get there? Well, we need several things: a vision, a workable, just political plan, and organization, all of which we are well on the way to formulating, supported by hundreds of activist political groups and campaigns throughout the world. It is up to us, the stakeholders, led by our Palestinian partners, to give you abroad your marching orders, the direction and leadership you need for turning into effective advocates for a just solution. Then we need a strategy that fathoms the power dimensions both inside the country and abroad. Naji and Ofra seem to call for a strategy that challenges Israeli Jews. In my view, they will never be active partners, they are almost irrelevant. The best we can hope for is to soften them to the point where they will not resist the transition to democracy that will have to be imposed upon them. Therefore we have to mobilize our grassroots supporters internationally and conduct concentrated campaigns to change government policy from below. Linking Palestine to other issues — how Israel exports technologies of repression to your own police and security forces, for example, or how Israel lobbies your government to water down human rights enforcement — adds power to what otherwise be a single-issue struggle. It isn’t. An effective Palestinian-critical Israeli-internatonal grassroots struggle with clear goals aimed at both affecting government policy and isolating Israel can be successful.

    I was disappointed at the many comments to both our papers that poo-pooed our contention that a just and inclusive political settlement can be achieved despite the odds, Israel’s considerable resources and the intransigence of the Israeli Jewish population. But that is not a political response. If we don’t believe that radical envisioning, programs, organization and strategizes can make a difference, if we are satisfied with just doing some symbolic protest year after year, then we lose. I’m all for debating our different approaches (though I, too, would hope in a more collegial tone since we’re all in this together). I’m not for losing.

    • Mooser
      June 28, 2018, 6:18 pm

      What do you have in mind for the IDF?

      • Sibiriak
        June 29, 2018, 9:05 am

        Mooser: What do you have in mind for the IDF?
        ————————————————–

        From Jeff Halper’s previous article:

        [The ODSC Program For One Democratic State Between The Mediterranean Sea And The Jordan River ]

        2. Individual Rights. No State law, institution or practices may discriminate among its citizens on the basis of national or social origin, color, gender, language, religion or political opinion, property, sexual orientation or other status. A single citizenship confers on all the State’s residents the right to freedom of movement, the right to reside anywhere in the country, and equal rights in every domain. All mechanisms of governance, law enforcement and security shall be thoroughly integrated on the basis of individual merit, including the military and internal security and police forces. The IDF and other Israeli security and police forces will be replaced by newly constituted national forces.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2018/05/democratic-multicultural-palestine/

      • echinococcus
        June 29, 2018, 10:46 am

        Thank you for the reminder, Sibiriak.

        All mechanisms of governance, law enforcement and security shall be thoroughly integrated on the basis of individual merit, including the military and internal security and police forces.

        i.e. nothing will stand in the way of promoting the most murderous snipers, torturers, spies or international assassins, the military judges with a 101% and above conviction rate, the stretcher-bearers with advanced specialization in coup-de-grâce therapy to the top posts and star salaries. Let’s not, of course, forget to thoroughly integrate the most brutal of the Ramallah neighborhood “security” bullies, who since 1993 served Azrael as best they could: even if not nearly as effective as their Azrael counterparts, the new principle is multi-millet.

        But then the next sentence reads

        The IDF and other Israeli security and police forces will be replaced by newly constituted national forces

        –totally contradicting what came before. Or does it? After all they will continue to be “Israel Defence”, “Israeli Security” and (Israeli) Police. What could be wrong? “Israel” defence is against… non-Israel, no?

        And what will they be “newly constituted” of? The majority invader youth, 90% of whom strongly approves genociding the owners of the country –no, scrap that, that’s the general public. Those likely to enlist would come from the 40% pool eager to personally perform it. Of course one would expect a multi-tribal, oops multi-communal state to also enroll a proportionate number of Palestinians, to serve as practice targets.

        What an exercise in nonsense. Instead of trying to find ways to support the resistance.

        Halper is admirable in action but his theories seem to be for a parallel reality.

      • Mooser
        June 29, 2018, 11:56 am

        “All…The IDF and other Israeli security and police forces will be replaced by newly constituted national forces.”

        Thanks. That should come as a great relief to the ranks, officers and staff of Israel’s “national forces”. A chance to share the burden of Israel’s (using the name just for convenience, it may be different) defense.

    • Maghlawatan
      June 28, 2018, 7:05 pm

      The 2 most important aspects of post Zionism imo are education and political economy.
      Another key issue is post Zionist collective identity. Zionism is for the fairies.
      A fourth issue is group trauma care for Israelis. The IDF economy feeds trauma to Israelis to support the occupation.

    • echinococcus
      June 28, 2018, 7:44 pm

      Halper,

      “the arcane splits that divide and ultimately neutralize many initiatives of the Left” is exctly what many cannot help but continue “lampooning”, as you say.
      Where is the evidence or even any empirical hint that the Zionist invaders are or could be amenable to any compromise?
      As long as any concessions by the Invaders remains pure fairy tale, all that blah, all that bitching about this or that model of an ODS is cloud-cuckooland meteorology.

      Where is your authorization, signed by the Palestinian people all around the world (as heirs and assigns of the legitimate Palestinian inhabitants as of at least the date of the Zionist invaders stating their hostile takeover intentions), meaning a full plebiscite without cheating or duress, ie without military or civil occupation and extending to all legitimate Palestinians as described, to impose on them untold millions of unwanted intruders (90% of whom approving the genoocide of Palestinians)? Ever heard about colonialism and the right of self-determination?

      In the absence of that authorization, whatever good intentions go into planning pie-in-the-sky ODSes or such is an exercise in colonialism, no less. Without that, all that talk of “democracy” is a sham.

      The nominal religious-based “communities” you defend are not qualitatively different from the state of society under Ottoman law. That means that it can well be seen as a continuation of the Zionist-entity Ottoman law being used as a pretext for their system
      of “nationalities” superseding citizenship. An ill-willed critic may even seee it as a clumsy attempt to use ODS to further cement the unauthorized presence of the intruders.

      There is much more to pick at in your post but that’s enough for now.
      Just one quick question: what has any of this to do with “Left” or “Right”?

  15. VQTilley
    June 30, 2018, 12:55 pm

    Coming in late, I’ve read this debate with great interest. Aside from some frayed tempers (to which, I hasten to say, I’m also vulnerable in this area), I think this debate is great, maybe the best I’ve seen. Not much to add except a couple of endorsements and a little technical stuff.

    First, I come down firmly on the side that national identities are regularly reconstructed as conditions change, a point both widely observable and well-theorized (by Anthony Smith, among others, for you scholars out there). The South African experience is the exemplar in this respect, being the closest in character to the Palestine situation, in my view. The ODS project is, in this sense, a nation-building project, aiming to redefine Palestine as a “country for all who live in it”, to borrow from South Africa’s Freedom Charter.

    Second, in the original article here, I suspect a confusion between “constitutional democracy” and “consociational democracy”. Maybe a short discussion of these terms will help debate. Almost all democracies have a constitution (the UK being among the rare exceptions). Constitutions simply lay out how the government works, and establish certain principles and aims to guide its interpretation, provide for certain specific human and civil rights, etc. I can’t see any obstacle to the ODS being a constitutional democracy – in fact, in the Palestine case, it would hard to imagine any successful transition that didn’t involve writing a new one that could gain consensus.

    (Re consensus, of course Jewish Israelis are far from considering this now. I also support the point that this can’t be taken as determining anything: they must simply (or not so simply) be leveraged into doing so. I don’t see this happening unless the status quo, which presently gives Jewish Israelis great security and a peaceful lifestyle, is radically disrupted. In South Africa, this was done by making the state ungovernable, through a pincer effect: BDS on the international front, and mass demonstrations and strikes on the internal front. Squeezed on both sides, the apartheid government lost both morale and control of the situation, and then and only then did they go to the table to talk alternatives. In Palestine, the BDS movement is taking off. The Gaza Great March of Return is an example of the internal side. So far, the PA and Israel’s network of spies and saboteurs has stifled a West Bank response, but the timer on that suppression is ticking.)

    “Consociational” refers to democracies set up to allow formal representation by groups, often ethnic or religious groups. Binationalism fits here. Lebanon’s system, with its allotted offices and parliamentary representation proportions for Sunnis, Shia and Christians, is another example. I think this is what writers here mean when they argue against it, and I heartily agree. Consociationalism gives incentives for ethnic politics, which fragment countries. The Lebanese system led eventually to horrible civil war. The South African 1995 constitution banned ethnic politics and parties altogether, except in providing space for the country’s 12 languages and actions for “historically disadvantaged individuals”. Reading that constitution might be a useful exercise.

    By these criteria, binationalism is untenable. The point that Palestinians have always rejected it is one factor. But it would also perpetuate or create those deadly ethnic politics that would sustain the conflict in a new form. Plus, since Israel has been found to be an apartheid state, no version of apartheid can be allowed to survive because this would sustain a crime against humanity. (This is why a two-state solution would be illegal.)

    I’d also just note that “secular” doesn’t have the same meaning among some Palestinians from Gaza with whom I’ve discussed it. They think “secular” means “anti-religious”, not religiously neutral. Putting the term “secular” forward with some very clear explanations about what it means would help greatly on this point, I think. (An example is the USA, which is constitutionally secular/neutral on religion, but where religious life is the strongest among all the developed countries.)

    Finally, I suggest moving away from taking the 1947 Partition Plan expressed in UNGA Resolution 181 as the point of departure. It was an anomaly in the history of the conflict, its terms much manipulated in the UN at the time by the United States. A great (if not mandatory) read in this respect is the 1947 recommendation of the Arab states, who were forced into a separate “Second Subcommittee,” who called for one state (their statement is reproduced in full in Walid Khalidi’s From Haven to Conquest, in a chapter unfortunately labelled “Binationalism”). Highly recommended, this document includes some draft constitutional passages.

    Much more interesting and important than the Partition Resolution, in my view, are the terms of the 1922 Mandate itself. Yes, it provided for a Jewish national home and the role of the Jewish Agency. But even at the time, the British made clear that this wasn’t to mean a Jewish state. Palestine was to be a secular nation-state. Obsessing over its not mentioning the “political” rights of the “non-Jews” misses the point: everyone living there was to have Palestinian citizenship. It’s in this geography, and legal framework, that the ODS makes best sense. Palestine is a state wrongfully divided by a racist doctrine. Healing that offense means reuniting Palestine as the unitary nation-state it was originally meant to be.

    A “national home” is a blurry thing in any case. It can mean no more than a place where people congregate to have and develop a language, cultural practices and a thought community. The Afrikaners have such a “national home” in South Africa to this day. In fact, they have more Afrikaans literature, film and cultural events than they did under apartheid. But in politics, they must aggregate their interests with other groups into non-ethnic parties. The Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa and other African peoples also have “national homes” in this respect. Rethinking the Jewish national home is therefore essential to the ODS, I suggest. A JNH isn’t necessarily inconsistent with an ODS as long as it doesn’t accord special civil rights.

    Just a few ideas – hope they are helpful.

    • Mooser
      June 30, 2018, 1:16 pm

      “Just a few ideas – hope they are helpful.”

      Much more helpful than the realities of Zonism.

    • Talkback
      June 30, 2018, 5:46 pm

      The first General Attorney of Palestine Norman Bentwich defined “national home”:

      “A national home, as distinguished from a state, is a country where a people are acknowledged as having a recognized legal position and the opportunity of developing their cultural, social and intellectual ideals without receiving political rights.”

      “It signifies a territory in which a people, without receiving rights of political sovereignty, has nevertheless a recognized legal position and the opportunity of developing its moral, social, and intellectual ideas.”

    • Maghlawatan
      July 1, 2018, 12:05 am

      Some good points there. I agree about 1947 as arbitrary. Israeli Jews think politics are set in stone and that wars are final. Hegemony doesn’t work like that. Nothing is eternal.

      Regarding South Africa one aspect that was ignored was political economy. Whites continue to control the cash-flows. This is a destabilising factor. Israeli rule is designed to maximise Jewish incomes. This is why Jews are so loyal tó the system . Without addressing this, nothing will work.

      • VQTilley
        July 1, 2018, 10:54 am

        Well, about South Africa, that’s not right. For one thing, political economy was certainly not “ignored.” It was very greatly debated, not least because it was central to the Freedom Charter and the expectations of everyone who had struggled against apartheid on the basis of it. It was therefore a great disappointment to the leftists, particularly the communists, that white assets weren’t forcibly reallocated to the black population on whose backs they had been built. This was a strategic decision by the ANC to allow the transition to work by keeping whites in the game. With the benefit of hindsight, I think they were probably right – the country avoided a conflagration and the deal laid the basis for a slower process of correction. But it’s entirely natural that it would be resented, particularly regarding land reform.

        For another, the constitution provides for affirmative action. The government invested billions of rand into new housing, electrification, potable water, roads, schools, business training, etc., etc. There have been extensive pro-poor development projects and lots of inputs into small, micro and medium sized enterprises. The oft-cited BBB (Black Economic Empowerment) project was just one tiny part of all this, but it did contribute significantly to the growth of a black business class. Of course there’s been quite a lot of waste in all this (I reported on some of that, in my job), and some corruption, which is lamentable but I suggest we consider inevitable in such situations. And as the years went by, the Zuma camp took over and most of that work turned into enriching a self-interested elite, to rising disgust. There’s been a lot of struggle, and publicity, about that. But if you visit South Africa today you find booming great cities populated entirely by black South Africans, running businesses of all sizes. Studies of the poorest sector find a kind of “churning” as people move up and down between the formal and informal sector. The top sector is increasingly populated by black South Africans. Everything in between is black-owned and black-run. The main problems in Johannesburg today include the traffic, which is so massive (as the main way to get to the other big cities is by car) that endless highway building projects can’t keep up.

        The idea that the revolution was betrayed and whites retained all economic power has two problems to it. It’s based on a certain way of measuring economic activity, which is to go by investers and stockowners. The vast majority of black South Africans don’t own stock, so this method renders their economic activity invisible. Second, it’s greatly exaggerated. There’s much more black participation than the “white retained all economic power” line accounts for. And there’s a real problem in outside perceptions. When I lived there (2005-2011), the usual response of white South Africans who fled the country in 1995 and came back for a visit was jaw-dropping astonishment at the country’s growth. I remember hearing one guy on a plane saying to his wife, “If I’d known what was going on here I wouldn’t have left.”

        What’s really curious is that this socio-economic reality is so little known outside the country. All you hear about in the international press are the complaints. I think this is at least partly because Israel is very anxious to push the South African case as a failure.

      • Maghlawatan
        July 1, 2018, 5:18 pm

        Political economy was effectively ignored. The structures of economic control were retained even if a sliver of the black population got to share in the trough.
        This cannot be repeated in Israel/Palestine.

      • RoHa
        July 2, 2018, 12:09 am

        I don’t know what the current situation is in South Africa, and have no axe to grind.

        I read of a slightly less rosy picture here.

        https://www.rt.com/business/431389-land-confiscation-zimbabwe-africa/

        Points:

        – The SA Government is planning to expropriate land from white farmers, without compensation.

        – The number of attacks on, and murders of, white farmers is increasing.

        – “…approximately 90 percent of the farms that were distributed to black farmers by the government by their own admittance go out of production,”

        Sources cited:

        South African Institute of Race Relations, TLU SA

        Professor Martin C. Breitenbach, at the School of Economics, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

      • Mooser
        July 4, 2018, 6:39 pm

        South Africa is a pretty big place, isn’t it?

  16. VQTilley
    July 2, 2018, 11:32 am

    The point being, exactly? Are you saying that the entire South Africa transition is a failure due to land reform problems? That democracy brings crime and therefore should be avoided? Or just that the transition has problems? Sure it has problems. Big ones. I’m just not sure what you’re trying to say, regarding Palestine.

    Taking these in turn:

    Land reform has been a huge problem forever, since the Dutch settlers first expropriated all the good farming land from the indigenous Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana and other black African farming societies. The revolution promised that most of this land would be returned, but the ANC government dragged its feet on this until it was confronted by mass protest (South Africa is the most vigorous democracy I’ve ever seen). Now it’s catching up.

    The Parliamentary decision to take land without compensation remains highly controversial, of course. But it will be applied to unused land. White farmers hold vast tracts they aren’t using. The law provides appeal processes to determine this.

    White farmers have suffered from periodic invasions and attacks by criminal black gangs or wandering thugs for decades. This pattern greatly worsened with the sudden decompression of repression of millions of black people in the Bantustans and from a flood of pan-African immigration into the country, some of it criminal, following the economic boom. (Prior to that, white farmers happily exploited cheap black labor and freely terrorized black people as they liked.) One first effect of the transition was a terrible crime explosion, which hasn’t been solved and plagues the quality of life for whites and blacks alike. Would this happen in Palestine? I think it could, if not so badly. The town and village culture in Palestine is still mostly intact, with all its social fabric. But as refugee populations return, they will bring with them the drug and criminal networks operating in the refugee camps.. SA offers a cautionary tale for planning in this respect.

    Re failed black farms on small plots provided through land reform: This is a tiny sliver of the economy, but still an important thing to consider. Among many incompetencies of the ANC government has been a failure to develop proper agricultural outreach and support services for new farmers. Most land reform around the world, in fact, fails due to small plot-holders lacking the necessary capital, inputs, knowledge and skills to make small farms work. The first effect of land reform is often that small privatized plots are sold to large landholders, which is just what we see to SA. And land reform will certainly fail in SA if no special effort is made to help smallholders and middle-holders succeed. The ANC elite has bungled ag outreach like they bungled a lot of things. A new Palestine government would face the same challenges, especially with refugee return and small farmers needing a lot of help learning how to run small businesses in the new national economy.

    I actually didn’t meet a lot of poor rural black people in South Africa who wanted to be farmers, however.. In fact, I can’t think of one, during my HSRC work in Limpopo province. They know how hard farming is. They wanted wage jobs, and better wage jobs. Hence the economic boom has centered in the cities, bringing other problems – exploding traffic burdens, huge housing needs, etc. Hopefully, now that the Zuma bloc is out of power or at least damaged, some better policies can come into play.

    What I take from this? Try not to let a unified Palestine be run by the PLO and its crony elite. The PLO was completely corrupted under Arafat’s rule and the PA remains a mafioso operation, with little grasp of most governing responsibilities. Land reform regarding the settlement blocs is absolutely essential, but considerable support will be needed for people returning to expropriated land. That kind of thing.

    • RoHa
      July 3, 2018, 12:34 am

      “Are you saying that the entire South Africa transition is a failure …”

      I’m not saying anything other than that the report presents a less glowing image of SA than your previous comment presented.

      ” I’m just not sure what you’re trying to say, regarding Palestine.”

      Nothing about Palestine.

    • Keith
      July 3, 2018, 2:10 pm

      VQTILLEY- ” Are you saying that the entire South Africa transition is a failure ….”

      The South African elimination of political apartheid has, in fact, been mostly a failure due to the failure to seize control of the entire political economy. Whether that was even possible is debatable, however, exchanging white compradors and satraps for black compradors and satraps accomplished little except to provide a veneer of legitimacy to corporate/oligarchic control. Western “democracy” is, in fact, capitalist democracy where one dollar equals one vote. Elections have little impact on governmental policy and serve primarily to legitimize a corrupt system. The majority of South African blacks are still getting screwed by the oligarchs and corporations. A quote and link for you.

      “South Africa’s democratization was profoundly compromised by an intra-elite economic deal that, for most people, worsened poverty, unemployment, inequality and ecological degradation, while also exacerbating many racial, gender and geographical differences.”

      “As a result, according to even the government’s own statistics, average black African household income fell 19 percent from 1995–2000 (to $3,714 per year), while white household income rose 15 percent (to $22,600 per year). Not just relative but absolute poverty intensified, as the portion of households earning less than $90 of real income increased from 20 percent of the population in 1995 to 28 percent in 2000.” (Patrick Bond)
      http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/06/the-mandela-years-in-power/

  17. Jeff Halper
    July 4, 2018, 4:23 am

    Thanks for your comments, Virginia, and for bringing some focus and useful SA comparisons to the discussion. (For those who don’t know her work, Virginia Tilley wrote “The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock” back in 2005, when I, for one, was still warning that the two-stae solution was in danger). A couple of points:

    1. Speaking for myself, I did not confuse “constitutional” with “consociational.” The former is absolutely necessary, although its construction will determine to a large extent how democratic and egalitarian the new state will be, and will be the product of a lot of negotiation and compromise (What we are offering now is a vision and the outlines and basic principles of a political system that will hopefully carry some weight). Our ODSC program, in contrast to what Naji and Ofra propose, contains elements of consociationalism (national ethnic, religious, etc. identities are acknowledged and given their space), but these identities have no formal role in the political system. Thus our brand of consociationalism does not add up to bi-nationalism, which we reject.

    2. Your discussion of the compatibility of a “national home” with a unitary state in which ethnic politics have no formal role is useful and similar, I think, to our concept. What complicates things here — and introduces an element of competition and feelings of “turf” being threatened — is that the Palestinian and /IsraeliJewish national homes entirely overlap, unlike the more discrete national homes of the Afrikaners, Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa and other African peoples. That is another reason why the notion of “collective rights” is useful as a middle-ground concept: it fits with the idea of a “national home” and thus legitimizes collective identities, which we think is crucial, since they cannot be suppressed or ignored. But collective rights are merely rights to be protected; they play no formal role in the political system and give no collective any privileges or power or formal status. At the same time it does recognize that individuals do not exist outside of collective identities, shifting as they may be.

    Example: it would be naive to assume that there will be no ethnic politics in the new state. Even today there are parties, both in Palestine and Israel, which reflect religious, class and regional identities, and in Israel there are explicit ethnic politics even amongst Jews (Ashkenazi-, Mizrahi-, Russian-based parties). But cross-over is also possible. Some 18,000 Israeli Jews voted for the Joint Arab List in the last elections, while significant numbers of Palestinian citizens of Israel vote for the Zionist Labor Party (many Druze for the Likud as well), as well as for the right-wing Shas party which is seen as protecting Muslim and Christian as well as Jewish religious rights.

    3. All this reflects different degrees of fluidity within the new society. Palestinian refugees when they return will, understandably, be VERY Palestinian for a generation or two, as, say, religious Zionists will remain VERY Israeli/Jewish. But a political system that is not bi- or multi-national, that protects collective rights to identity and association but does not give them any political status, allows another dynamic to work as well: the coming together into a new civil society, which was also the ANC’s vision (recall Mandela’s phrase: “We are all South Africans.”) Younger people, in particular, plus the less religious and more middle-class at the beginning, will find much in common and will be inspired to make this exciting new one-state enterprise work, for all its difficulties. This is the nation-building element that Virginia mentions, and if it is not based on bi-nationalism but allows people to move comfortably between their own identities, traditions and institutions and those being created jointly with fellow citizens in the new civil polity, it represents an exciting challenge that brings everyone into the common effort. Just as today there is no civil difference between Afrikaners and Xosa in SA, so, too, will we find complex but workable ways of balancing collective identities, individual rights and common nation-building.

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